An over-reliance on Hazard: Why Chelsea need a world-class striker

Many say Chelsea need a world-class striker to be complete, so considering how good they are already, how good could they become?

Much has been written about Chelsea's lack of a world-class striker.  And yet a quick glance at the Premier League table would suggest they are doing fine without him.

Jose Mourinho's side are seven points clear of second-placed Arsenal, and looking increasingly likely to end the campaign as title-winners.

Manchester City may have three games in hand over the Blues - a fact Mourinho has recently reminded everyone of - but Manuel Pellegrini's men have to win those matches for them to count.  And following Wigan's outstanding victory at the Etihad on Sunday, the cracks may be starting to show in a side whose devastating home form was ended by none other than Chelsea.

As you can see from the statistics below, Chelsea's top four performers in terms of key passes have played 185 between them in the league.  That is 185 goal-scoring opportunities and yet a look at the assists shows just why Mourinho will be looking hard for a new striker this summer.

PlayerKey PassAppsMins
Eden Hazard 79 29 2,460
Willian 40 19 1,231
Oscar 36 27 1,770
Ramires 30 27 2,383

It is no surprise that Eden Hazard has the most assists of any Chelsea player in the league, given that he is also streets ahead in terms of key passes.  But of the 79 goal-scoring opportunities he has set up, only seven have ended in a goal. 

PlayerGoal AssistAppsMins
Eden Hazard 7 29 2,460
Frank Lampard 3 22 1,441
Fernando Torres 3 20 1,115
Ashley Cole 2 13 1,104
Samuel Eto'o 2 18 1,177
Oscar 2 27 1,770
Ramires 2 27 2,383

When you consider that Hazard is also Chelsea's top-scorer in the league with 13 goals, it suddenly becomes clear that the Blues - while flying high - could be in something of a predicament if the majestic Belgian was absent for a period of time.

Eden Hazard 13 29 2,460
Samuel Eto'o 7 18 1,177
Oscar 6 27 1,770
Andre Schürrle 6 21 824
Frank Lampard 5 22 1,441

Chelsea are impressing domestically, and they should have enough to get into the quarter-finals of the Champions League. But when it comes to the business-end of that particular competition, their lack of an incisive and consistent finisher could prevent them from going all the way.

But if the right man arrives next summer, Hazard and co could see their assist stats shoot up accordingly, with the Blues well and truly back both in England and abroad.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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